Female empowerment is the theme of Women’s History Month at RV

Despite challenges, a number of clubs have mobilized to provide spaces to celebrate women


Photo courtesy of womenshistorymonth.gov

An image from the Smithsonian collection’s “Girlhood (It’s complicated)” exhibit this month

Maham Zulfiqar, News Writer

For over 30 years, March has been known as Women’s History Month. Originating from Women’s History Week, it was changed to Women’s History Month after petitions from the National Women’s History Alliance in 1987. Women’s History Month was established to celebrate the often-overlooked achievements and impact of women in society.

Rancocas Valley students and staff have differing views on how the school teaches and celebrates women’s history throughout the year. Guidance counselor Donna Aromando, who is involved in planning this month’s events for RV, believes the school has progressed tremendously when it comes to female representation. 

“Women’s history has been incorporated in our curriculum in all subjects more than ever in recent years,” she said. “Students learn about influential female leaders in science, literature and politics in their classrooms. There have also been more opportunities for women in our school sports and clubs.” 

Myaa Fulton, a member of the school’s Black Student Union, disagrees, saying the school only appreciates Women’s History in certain topics. 

“The only time social studies or history classes teach about women’s history is with topics such as the 1920’s with the Flapper movement,” Fulton said. “As with Black History, women’s history is American history and should be discussed always.” 

A number of students appear to be on the fence about the school’s overall approach towards women’s history and issues. Maya Martin, a member of the school’s Social Justice Club, agrees with Fulton, adding that the curriculum needs to be more inclusive towards marginalized women, but also appreciates the direction that the school is headed. 

“I think all my teachers have done an excellent job at teaching women’s history, although it could always be spoken about more in-depth,” said Martin. “My history and English teachers have taught us a great deal about women’s history and the struggles they have gone through. I think it would be awesome though to dive deeper into the history of the struggles of women who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community and women of all different colors and backgrounds.”

I think it would be awesome…to dive deeper into the history of the struggles of women who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community and women of all different colors and backgrounds.

— Maya Martin

Enise Kupa, the chapter leader for RV’s Circle of Women club, believes that what is taught in classrooms regarding women in each subject ultimately depends on the teacher. 

“Based on my own experiences and teachers, I have had teachers who were extremely passionate about what they taught and would always provide us with additional resources. For example, I had a class where we would read works from a woman essayist and my teacher would provide me with more resources beyond the curriculum so I could explore the works of the author,” she said. “In some history classes, as well, teachers will tell us of movies, books or additional links we could look into.”

Each of the mentioned clubs, as well as many others, are hosting events commemorating and celebrating Women’s History Month. This year, the school is doing more than ever to celebrate. 

Principal Joseph Martin believes technology has played a huge part in helping to organize this month’s events. “Believe it or not, the pandemic has actually made us closer in some ways,” he said. “Before, it was hard to get people together in one room at the same time, but with virtual meetings, it is so much easier and more accessible to the students.”

Mr. Stephen Joseph, a member of the Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Cultural Competency Committee, also believes that this year it was easier to publicize the events and reach a larger audience. “We thought there needs to be something more, so for the first time, being everything is virtual. I emailed every kid in the school the agenda… and then I emailed specific events when they kept coming up… So I think the publicity part of it is coming to the forefront there,” he said.

While the virtual school setting has its downsides, its benefits in hosting group events and activities are helping to reach a wider audience than previously available. 

Throughout the month of March, RV will be celebrating Women’s History Month through a number of events hosted by clubs, teachers and organizations. 

The Black Student Union is hosting a conference from on Tuesday, March 22 at 1 PM called “Girl Talk: My Hair, My Crown.” The discussion will invite a number of alumni to talk about their experiences as women of color. Discussion topics will range from discussion of Black hairstyles and culture to Black women in the working world.

The Social Justice Club is partnering with an organization for a charity drive as well as hosting a symposium later this month. “Our first event, which will be held throughout the month, is a drive collecting donations for the Providence House of Burlington County Women’s Shelter,” said club member Maya Martin. “Our second event is a women empowerment symposium in which we will be having a panel of a variety of women ranging from teachers to the dean of education from Stockton. Attendees of the symposium will be able to ask the panel any questions pertaining to what women’s rights mean to them and how they empower women.”

The Circle of Women Club, which began last fall and is part of a national organization, is working on many projects throughout the month of March. There are a number of fundraisers and drives, including the Distribution with Dignity project, for which the club is collecting feminine products to be sent to local health centers, and the Guess the Skittles in the Jar fundraiser, which raises proceeds to be sent to the national organization’s efforts to education women around the world. They will also be hosting a movie night featuring the 2019 biopic about the late Ruth Bader Ginsberg, “On the Basis of Sex.”

A master document of all the events and activities taking place this month can be found under the “News and Announcements” section on the RV website.